I was intrigued by this “vintage” Penny Parker mystery book I found at a public library book sale for 50 cents, because I recognized the author–Mildred Wirt–as the true author of the first 25 Nancy Drew mystery novels I so loved to read when I was 11 years old. Nancy Drew books were all written under the name Carolyn Keene, a pseudonym created by the publisher. Many years later, the true identify of the writer was revealed. It was the late 1990s and I was filming my documentary film “Women of Mystery: Three Writers Who Forever Changed Detective Fiction.” I even had the opportunity to meet Mildred Wirt Benson at a Nancy Drew conference I attended. She was 90-years-old by then and relieved and proud to finally be able to speak about her role in creating a fictional girl detectives who had inspired so many girl readers, including Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has said as “a Brooklyn grade schooler she wanted to be either Nancy Drew or Amelia Earhart.” I especially love that she also mentioned that she admired Nancy, because “she was adventuresome, daring, and her boyfriend was a much more passive type than she was.”
When I saw the inscription inside the book I purchased at the library book sale, I decided to see if I could find Mary. It has been 74 years, and I figured Mary must have been 10, 11 or 12 when she received the book. She would be between 85 and 90 by now.
With a little on-line detective work, I did find her. She lives in an assisted living residence in Minnesota, where I was told she loves having books read to her. I mailed it off with this note. I’ll let you know if I receive a reply. Even if I don’t, it felt good to send her book back to her for Christmas 2018.